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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Stars fall to Penguins in shootout, 4-3

By Mark Stepneski

The Dallas Stars' four-game winning streak came to an end with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night at American Airlines Center. Jamie Benn, Sheldon Souray and Michael Ryder scored goals for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen stopped 26 of 29 shots and one of four in the shootout. The Stars, who remain in eighth place in the Western Conference, finished February with an 8-5-3 record.

First period

The Stars scored first with 4:35 left in the first when Steve Ott got to the rebound of an Adam Burish shot and set up Jamie Benn, who beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a shot from the slot.

The Penguins tied it 1:07 before the first intermission when Pascal Dupuis set up Steve Sullivan on a breakaway and Sullivan beat Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen with a backhand shot.

Pittsburgh lost defenseman Kris Letang midway through the first period when he was hit high by Stars forward Eric Nystrom. The Penguins announced that Letang would not return with an upper body injury. Nystrom was given a minor for roughing.

The Stars’ penalty kill came up big in the period, going 2-2 against the Pittsburgh power play. The Stars had one power play chance, but couldn’t cash in.

Second period

The Penguins got their third power play early in the second period, and Fleury made a sharp glove save on Vernon Fiddler’s shorthanded breakaway. The Penguins came close to score on the power play, but an Evgeni Malkin backhand from a sharp angle hit the crossbar.

The Penguins got a fourth power play at the 4:32 mark of the second period, but the Stars were able to kill that one off and it remained a 1-1 game.

Pittsburgh got a fifth power play 8:40 into the second period, but again the Stars killed it off.

The Stars put together an impressive couple of shifts to keep Pittsburgh pinned in its own end and ended up drawing its second power play of the night, but the Stars couldn’t take advantage.

Fleury came up with another big save late in the period, stopping Adam Burish on a two-on-one with 1:08 left in the period.

But the Stars took a 2-1 lead with 12.2 seconds remaining with a goal off the rush. Loui Eriksson set up Sheldon Souray, who beat Fleury with a shot from the slot.

The Penguins announced in the second intermission that forward Steve Sullivan was out for the rest of the game with a lower body injury

Third period

The Penguins tied the game 3:33 into the third period. Jordan Staal got the puck along the right boards, skated into the slot and his shot was tipped past Lehtonen by Craig Adams.

The Penguins took the lead 39 seconds later when Paul Martin’s shot from the right point was deflected into the net by Chris Kunitz.

Less than a minute later the Stars had a chance to tie, but Fleury stopped Loui Eriksson’s breakaway bid.

The Stars did get the equalizer at the 7:23 mark when Eriksson drove the net and lifted a pass over the crease to Michael Ryder, who tapped it into the net to tie the game at 3-3.

The Stars went on their third power play with 11:36 after Malkin and Nystrom got in a scrum and Malkin picked up an extra roughing minor. The Stars had a great chance, but Fleury, while on down in the crease, stopped a close range bid by Ribeiro.

The Stars went on their fourth power play with 14 seconds remaining in regulation. The Stars didn’t score and the power play carried over into overtime.

Overtime/Shootout

The Stars couldn’t take advantage of the 1:46 of four-on-three power play time to open overtime.

During the four-on-four play, Fleury made a big stop on a point blank bid by Stephane Robidas and a Souray blast hit the crossbar with 44 seconds remaining.

In the shootout, Kunitz, James Neal and Dupuis scored for Pittsburgh. Eriksson and Benn scored for the Stars. Pittsburgh took the shootout 3-2 and the game 4-3.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Burish
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Garbutt-Wandell-Vincour

Souray-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Scratched: Pardy, Petersen
Injured:  Dowell (finger), Morrow (neck/shoulder)